collaboration can actually bear fruit only as and when accompanied by
mutual friendly feeling. First of all in this connection, the fate of Polish
citizens in the Soviet Union is of special interest to the Polish Government
and public opinion. The Soviet Note of January 16, 1943, introduced
new and unexpected elements and implications which have filled us with
deep concern and which it is my duty to elucidate in this conversation
with you, Mr. President.
Stalin : I am listening, please.
Romer : As a result of the Agreement of July 30, 1941, the amnesty
proclaimed by the Soviet Government affected a vast number of Polish
citizens^, not excluding national minorities, whose Polish citizenship was
only called into question on December 1, 1941, in a note of the People's
Commissariat for Foreign Affairs. Set free from camps and prisons our
citizens began to rally en masse to the Polish Army then in formation.
With the assistance of the Governments of the United States and Great
Britain, and of a number of social welfare organizations and institutions,
the Polish Government organized relief work on a large scale for their
families and for those who remained at work in their places of exile. The
need for this relief did not in the least imply a desire to assure to the Polish
population an existence in any way privileged as compared with their
surroundings, nor even an allegation, never put forward by us, that Polish
deportees received worse treatment at the hands of the Soviet authorities
than the local population. Their position was worse for other reasons.
They had been deported at an hour's notice and as a rule with no money,
clothing or food, torn away by force from the surroundings in which they
had grown up. Frequently they were separated from their families and
were taken under most difficult circumstances to distant, foreign countrie s3
often with extremely severe climates differing greatly from that to which
they were accustomed. They were settled among an alien people whose
language and customs were foreign to them, and where they lacked the
adequate living quarters and vegetable gardens at the disposal of the local
population. They were made to do work of which they had no previous
experience, for instance intellectuals were given heavy manual work which
they had never done before. They were also suffering from disease. For
these reasons relief in the form of food, clothing and medical supplies was
and remains an absolute necessity.
Stalin: Whom do you refer to as the Polish population, Mr.
Ambassador ? The whole Polish population which found itself in Western
Ukraine and Western White Ruthenia ?
Romer : According to Polish legislation, I consider as Polish citizens
all those persons who possessed Polish citizenship in 1939. There is a
difference of opinion between our two Governments on this subject, the
more so since, as was made clear by the Soviet Note of January 16, 1943,
and its interpretation which I heard from Commissar Molotov several days
ago, the Soviets extended their citizenship to all persons who were in the
disputed territories on November 1 and 2, 1939, even if they found them-
selves there quite temporarily and by accident and had no connection
whatever with the place where they were staying.
Molotoy : That is not exact. There is reference in the Note to the
Citizenship Act which differentiates between permanent and temporary
residents : the former have become citizens of the Soviet Union by virtue
of the law, while the citizenship of the latter is a matter for individual
Romer : The Note of January 16, 1943, states quite explicitly that all
persons present in the disputed territories desired Soviet citizenship.